If you think the British seaside is just fish & chips, ice cream and cockles then you’ve probably never visited Brighton. Yes, it does still have many of these classic seaside attractions. However, this vibrant and diverse coastal city has so much more to offer.
In the words of Kenny Everett when asked if the train stops in Brighton. “I hope so or there’s going to be a hell of a splash”. Still, today getting the train to Brighton couldn’t be easier with a journey time of just over an hour from several central London terminals.
Back in the late 1700s, the then Prince of Wales made Brighton fashionable for day-trippers and holidaymakers from London. He built the unique Royal Pavilion, Brighton’s famous landmark building. Due to its proximity to London and its cosmopolitan nature, Brighton continues to be a draw for many Londoners wanting to escape the city.
The popularity of Brighton remains as strong as ever. The short journey time makes it perfect for a summer’s day trip or a long weekend. So what is there to see and do in Brighton once you get there? Bearing in mind that this is the UK and we don’t always get the best weather.
So in no particular order, here are some of our choices for the best things to do in Brighton.
The Royal Pavilion
As mentioned, the Royal Pavilion was built for the then Prince of Wales, King George IV. George commissioned the famous Regency architect John Nash to transform the existing building into the decorative Indian style palace we see today.
Inside, the building is even more lavish than it appears from the outside. The ornately colourful rooms really assault the senses as you enter, especially the salon and banqueting room.
The Royal Pavilion is usually open daily from 9.30am–5.45pm and advanced online booking in highly advised.
British Airways i360 Viewing Tower
The British Airways i360 is a 162m observation tower that first opened in 2016. You can find the tower next to the remains of the old West Pier, not that you really need directions. It’s pretty easy to spot from anywhere around town.
Don’t worry, there aren’t any stairs or claustrophobic lifts involved. The glass viewing pod glides up to a height of 138m, giving you spectacular views over the English Channel and the South Downs.
If you fancy a drink on your little journey there’s even a bar on board, the Nyetimber Sky Bar.
The Brighton Palace Pier, classic British seaside at its best. Arcade games, funfair rides and fighting off seagulls after your fish and chips. The grade II-listed pier has been attracting visitors for over one hundred years.
Although the attractions can seem a little pricey, it is free to walk along the pier and simply soak up the classic seaside atmosphere.
SEA LIFE Brighton
Brighton’s Sea Life isn’t just an aquarium it’s the oldest operating aquarium in the world, it first opened in 1872. The building still features the original Victorian Gothic arcade.
Although it dates from the 1800s Sea Life Brighton has been extensively updated. It features a ‘Day to Night’ coral reef experience, a rainforest adventure and our favourite, sharks. Sea Life works with the Shark Trust and campaigns against unsustainable shark fishing in EU waters.
You can find Sea Life Brighton across the road from Palace Pier. A perfect option when the weather isn’t too good
If you are fed up with the everyday high street chains which you find in every town then you will love ‘The Lanes’. As the name suggests, it is a collection of narrow lanes and alleyways full of little independent shops, restaurants and pubs. North Laine is where you can find the quirky and bizarre independent shops selling anything and everything.
If you are not in a buying mood then just sit in one of the cafés and people watch. You never know who you might see.
These are just a few of the many things to do in Brighton, whatever the weather or time of year. We’re sure you’ll have a great time and find something which suits your tastes. By the way, if you see our hero and Brighton local Nick Cave on your trip, say hi!